Is there any science in the new “Cosmos” series, or is it all naturalistic religion?

I noticed a couple of reviews of this television series, produced by an atheist producer of cartoons.

The first review comes from J. W. Wartick.

Multiverse:

The universe is actually so huge that we can’t actually observe the entire thing because there is more beyond what we can see. But “many… suspect” that our universe is but one in an extremely huge number of actual individual universes (here shown as little bubbles spreading out continually over the screen).

Origin of life:

The origin of life “evolved” through biochemical evolution.

J.W. comments:

The depiction of the multiverse with little-to-no qualification was alarming, for there is much debate over whether there even is such a multiverse, and if there is, to what extent it may be called a multiverse. The portrayal within this episode was essentially a fictitious account being passed off without qualification as something a lot of people believe. The wording used was that “many… suspect” there is such a universe. Well yes, that may be true, but to what extent can we test for these other universes? What models predict them and why? I am uninterested in how many people hold to a belief; I am interested in whether that belief is true.

[…][T]he brief snippet used to explore the origin of life: “biochemical evolution” was astonishingly insufficient. I’m sure we’ll get into that in the next episode, but the origin of life is one of the great unsolved mysteries within science and to just hand wave and say “biochemical evolution” is, well, notable to say the least.

I agree with Wartick. What I am looking for is the story of how scientists experimented, observed and tested in order to find out about the universe. I’m not interested in people working theoretical physics who presupposed naturalism at age 14 because their Sunday School teacher was mean to them. Presupposing a philosophy of naturalism is just religion. I want to see the science. Here are my responses to the multiverse speculation and the origin of life speculation.

The series quote Carl Sagan at the beginning, but he a person who let his religion of naturalism lead him away from the scientific evidence for a beginning. Instead of accepting the standard Big Bang model, which implies a transcendent Creator, Sagan chose to embrace a faith-based eternal oscillating model of the universe, which tries to avoid a Creator. I wrote about the problems with Sagan’s naturalistic speculative cosmology in this post.

Now let’s see Casey Luskin’s review on Evolution News.

Excerpt:

During the first episode, Tyson devotes lengthy segments to promoting the old tale that religion is at war science, and strongly promotes the idea that religion opposes intellectual advancement. He tells the story of the 16th-century astronomer cultist philosopher Giordano Bruno, who he says lived in a time without “freedom of speech” or “separation of church and state,” and thus fell into the clutches of the “thought police” of the Inquisition for disagreeing with the church’s geocentric views. Never mind that his show made it appear that President Obama endorsed Sagan-style materialism, but I digress… Of course the main religious authority of that time was the Catholic Church, and the program shows angry priests with evil-sounding British accents dressed in full religious garb throwing Bruno out on the street, and eventually burning him at the stake.

Just to make sure that other Christians who aren’t Catholic also understand their religions too hinder scientific progress, Tyson goes out of his way to point out that Bruno was opposed by “Calvinists in Switzerland,” and “Lutherans in Germany,” including the great protestant reformer Martin Luther himself. He never mentions that Protestants aren’t the ones who burned Bruno at the stake, nor does he ever mention that most of the founders of modern science were Christians. But I digress…

It’s a lengthy scene, all to highlight some of the darkest chapters of Christianity in Europe. But the entire retelling of Bruno’s fate lasts a good portion of the first episode’s hour. Why make the religious persecution of scientists some four hundred years ago a major focus of a widely publicized television series that is ostensibly about promoting science?

Luskin took issue with the idea that religious people hold science back. On the contrary, religious Christians were largely responsible for the birth of modern science. Luskin also reports on over a dozen cases where naturalists have suppressed critical thinking about whether science disproves the religion of naturalism.

Here’s are a few:

A congressional subcommittee staff investigation found that biologist Richard Sternberg experienced retaliation by his co-workers and superiors at the Smithsonian, including transfer to a hostile supervisor, removal of his name placard from his door, deprivation of workspace, subjection to work requirements not imposed on others, restriction of specimen access, and loss of his keys, because he allowed a pro-ID article to be published in a biology journal.

In 2005, over 120 faculty members at Iowa State University (ISU) signed a petition denouncing ID and calling on “all faculty members to … reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.” These efforts were significant not just because they opposed academic freedom by demanding conformity among faculty to reject ID, but because they focused on creating a hostile environment for pro-ID astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of The Privileged Planet, who was denied tenure at ISU in 2006 due to his support for ID. Both public and private statements exposed through public records requests revealed that members of ISU’s department in physics and astronomy voted against Gonzalez’s tenure due to his support for ID.

In 1993, San Francisco State University biology professor Dean Kenyon was forced to stop teaching introductory biology because he was informing students that scientists had doubts about materialist theories of the origin of life.

In 2005, pro-ID adjunct biology professor Caroline Crocker lost her job at George Mason University after teaching students about both the evidence for and against evolution in the classroom, and mentioning ID as a possible alternative to Darwinism. While her former employer maintains that it simply chose not to renew her contract, she was specifically told she would be “disciplined” for teaching students about the scientific controversy over evolution.

In 2013, Ball State University (BSU) President Jo Ann Gora issued a speech codedeclaring that “intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses” at BSU, after atheist activists from the Freedom from Religion Foundation charged that a “Boundaries of Science” course taught by a well-liked physics professor (Eric Hedin) was violating the Constitution by favorably discussing intelligent design.

You can read more about the problems with Carl Sagan’s religion-driven rejection of experimental science in this post by Phillip E. Johnson. For a better take on cosmology with more evidence and less religion, check out this lecture by particle physicist Michael Strauss. I think you’ll find that science is better when it’s done by a practicing experimental scientist, and not by the creator of cartoons like “Family Guy”.

UPDATE: On the Christian Apologetics Alliance blog, Dr. Tim McGrew wrote that the portrayal of Bruno had even more inaccuracies. Isn’t it amazing that that a cartoonist can get something filled with myths and misrepresentations to be televised? And many people will believe it, too, just like many people accepted the (now-discredited) oscillating model of Carl Sagan. I still have atheists proposing this to me when I present the standard model to them. That’s the hazard of having a TV-driven worldview, I guess. A worldview based on Star Trek.

13 thoughts on “Is there any science in the new “Cosmos” series, or is it all naturalistic religion?”

  1. I found this at patheos from a church historian:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godandthemachine/2014/03/dishonestcosmos/

    This paragraph summarizes the Cosmos approach:

    “I’m actually not going to draw from any exotic sources for this post. I’m going to try confine what I include here only to things that can be found on the first page of a Google search for Giordano Bruno. This will illustrate more clearly the rank intellectual dishonesty involved in this segment. The truth of the story was never more than five minutes away from host Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his writers, producers, and animators. They opted to tell half-truths and outright lies instead.”

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  2. Stopped watching when the episode talked about the elements that the universe and stars are made of. I thought to myself “Here it comes, he’s gonna say that we have the universe inside of us.” He actually said that we are all ‘star stuff’, which is a term that I first heard spoken in an episode of Babylon 5. The (pagan) alien religious leader said the same thing, verbatim.

    I guess the cartoon guy is a B5 fan…

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      1. Are you saying that He created a supernova in order that He might “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13)?

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  3. Newest WK Hall of Quotes nominee: “I’m not interested in people working theoretical physics who presupposed naturalism at age 14 because their Sunday School teacher was mean to them.” :-) Honorable Mention: “I think you’ll find that science is better when it’s done by a practicing experimental scientist, and not by the creator of cartoons like “Family Guy”.”

    The indoctrination continues. As an anti-Christian (let’s call atheists what they really are) for 42 years, I was terribly spiritually abused by the original “cosmos” series and its brainwashing money launderer, Carl Satan. I owned every single one of his books, and it really is something that these trash novels were actually sold in the science section and not on the religious cult table. The damage this did to me – yes, it was free will on my part, but can I have a healthcare subsidy anyway? – was incalculable.

    Christian parents: PLEASE do not send your kids to the government schools when they are growing up, and if you think sending them to a Christian university or seminary is much better, please choose wisely – as such are falling away too. And, make sure that your teenage kids are thoroughly equipped in all facets of apologetics before they leave high school and as a condition of getting a cell phone. (AWANA, good as it is, does NOT count for apologetics. I’ve seen strippers come out of AWANA – I am NOT kidding.) You do NOT want them to look like me at 42. (Or 52, for that matter, but such is a different story.)

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  4. Thank you for this post. I thought I was imagining the anti-Christian message. I am relieved to see I was right. The show really is anti God. Wow.

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